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The Government have no plans to replace or review the Barnett formula, which has delivered fair, stable and transparent settlements for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland under successive Administrations for almost 30 years.
Public expenditure in Scotland is £8,414 per head, yet in the east midlands it is a quarter less, at £6,334. In Wellingborough, a secondary school has been demolished, there have been cuts in the police force and we do not have a local hospital. Why should the population of Wellingborough and the rest of the east midlands subsidise the population of Scotland by the massive amount of £2,080 a year? What is the justification for that huge difference in public expenditure?
In every constituency, in every part of every region and nation of this country, there has been a massive increase in public services: more schools, more doctors, more nurses. As it happens, investment in public spending in Scotland has increased in the past five years by 18 per cent., but in England it increased by 21 per cent., so there are higher rates of increase in England. As the hon. Gentleman has brought it up, I should point out that in his area there are 420 more teachers than in 1998, 163 more police officers and 62 police community support officers. In his NHS area, there are 6,886 more nurses, 725 more consultants, 353 more GPs and 548 more dentists—all on account of strong economic management by the Government—
Recently, I had the privilege of chairing an all-party review of services for disabled children. The Treasury's response was to target £340 million for England and £34 million for Scotland. May I have my hon. Friend's assurance that nothing in the Barnett formula will prevent us from continuing to negotiate with the Executive to ensure that funding is indeed targeted at disabled children and the needs we identified?
It is only right to point out that my right hon. Friend has done more to advance the cause of disabled children than almost any other Member of the House, and much tribute is due to him. He is right to point out that as part of the comprehensive spending review settlement for the Department for Education and Skills in England money additional to that agreed with the Barnett consequentials at the time has been made available. His point underlines the fact that, because of the strong economic performance of the United Kingdom over the past 10 years, significant sums of additional money are going to education and health in Scotland, as they are throughout the rest of the UK. Obviously, it is for each of the devolved Administrations to decide how to spend the money made available to them, but my right hon. Friend makes an excellent case that additional resources should be spent on services for disabled children, and I look forward to that happening.
When the Minister next has discussions with the Chancellor, will he also raise the issue of moneys not contained in the Barnett formula, particularly Nuclear Decommissioning Authority funding for decommissioning at Dounreay? He will be aware that earlier this year there was a severe threat to Dounreay caused by problems outside Scotland. Will he ensure that his right hon. Friend is aware of that so that such threats do not reoccur in future years?
I am happy to have that conversation and to inform the hon. Gentleman that I shall be visiting Dounreay next Friday, where I will be able to hold discussions with local management. If the hon. Gentleman wants to come along— [ Interruption. ] I am telling him now. Don't start with the "no phone calls and no letters"—I am telling the hon. Gentleman now that I shall be there next Friday, so why do he and I not sit down with local management at Dounreay and discuss all those issues?